Pathobiology and Translational Medicine Training Program

The program is designed to train doctoral candidates for careers at the interface between biology and medicine. It provides essential tools to allow Ph.D.’s to function effectively in transitional research endeavors. Furthermore, the knowledge of basic medical concepts and the holistic approach imparted by the program prepares students to be more effective in careers as “traditional” basic scientists. The program provides students with experience in team-oriented research using a basic/clinical co-mentoring paradigm. It is also designed to promote interactions between basic scientists and clinical practitioners within and between departments, with a major emphasis on collaborative science.

The curriculum is carefully designed to seamlessly integrate key basic medical concepts (including basic anatomy, histology, pathology, and pathophysiology) into a modern, molecularly-oriented curriculum using courses specifically designed for Pathobiology graduate students. It includes exposure to many clinical areas, including surgical and autopsy pathology, and laboratory medicine, as well as hands-on exposure to experimental histology and pathology.

Co-mentored thesis projects provide an opportunity for students to interact with clinical practitioners and provide a meaningful working experience of biological research in a team context. Translational opportunities for observation of clinical practice form an integral component of the program. Hence, the program’s setting at the interface between clinical medicine and basic science is a critical feature to allow integration of the two disciplines.


Iannis Aifantis
Iannis Aifantis, PhD
Program Co-Director
Professor and Chair of Pathology 
Jorge Ghiso, PhD
Graduate Advisor
Professor of Pathology and Psychiatry
 Cindy Loomis
Cindy Loomis, MD, PhD
Graduate Co-Advisor & Curriculum Director
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Pathology

Sample Courses

  • Foundations of Cell and Molecular Biology I
  • Introduction to Tissues and Organ Systems
  • Introduction to Histopathology Lab
  • Pathobiology of Disease
  • Advanced Tissues and Organ Systems
  • Special Topics in Pathobiology
  • Introduction to Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Pathology in the Omics Era
  • Grant Writing
  • Scientific Integrity and the Responsible Conduct of Research

Recommended Elective Courses

  • Principles of Pharmacology and Drug Development
  • Translating Cancer Discovery into Clinical Practice
  • Introduction to Immunology
  • Stem Cell Biology
  • Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration

Qualifying Exam

When: Summer year 2 


  • Written: NIH-style proposal describing the research project you intend to pursue for PhD studies; 12 double-spaced pages maximum, not including preliminary results, figures, and references. Should stress what data are anticipated to be collected, how they will be interpreted, and alternative approaches should problems arise.
  • Oral: defense of written thesis proposal
    • - Committee: 3 faculty, not including advisor, with at least 1 from MOTI program 
      serving as chair. 
      - Date: written proposal by June of 2nd year; oral defense prior to registration for winter term of 3rd year.